As I said, Chris has always been relatively private. I know that his brother and friends openly drink, smoke, do drugs and just generally do crazy things for entertainment. I never knew how much Chris was involved in, but his brother and friends recently told me that he actually is the provider of drinks and smokes, even though he has never admitted to me that he drinks or smokes. I wonder if he is afraid of my judgement, even though I have made it clear numerous times that I need honesty. Finally, when I started sharing some of my past experiences with drinking, he started sharing a bit of his history, too. I appreciated his honesty, but since he had waited until I did so to admit the behavior, that verified for me that he was neglecting to talk about things because of fear of my judgment. It made me wonder what else falls into this category and whether he’s lied about any other behavior of his. For example, he maintains he was a virgin our first time together, but now I question whether that was true.
About a year after we started dating, he went dark to everyone including me. He pretended nothing was wrong and refused to talk much. I found out through a colleague that his ex-girlfriend had accused him of rape. At this point I put down my foot and forced him to talk to me. It turns out that he went dark because his lawyer asked him to and that he wasn’t even supposed to be talking to me. Normally, if it were any other person in the world accused of rape, I would have asked questions, but Chris is the gentlest, kindest, most loving and most sensitive person I’ve ever known, and I know he is not the type of person to sexually assault anyone. I’ve been sexually assaulted myself and know the type who would do something like that. It’s not someone like Chris, who asked my permission for even the slightest touch and who was so nervous the first time we kissed that he was practically convulsing. He was the first person I was able to be confident enough with that I could overcome my own sexual anxiety that had persisted for years after my own abuse; so, without another question, I consoled him when he told me about the rape allegation.
Now, well after the entire case has been dismissed, after everyone he knew defended him, and after he suffered no social repercussions, he is still fearful of the entire incident. He has taken up beliefs and gone as far as to say things like “#himtoo.” I thought he would get past this once he began to heal, especially knowing my story and what had been done to me, but he hasn’t, and I can’t help but start to wonder why. Did I dismiss things too quickly? Should I have asked questions? I don’t think he raped anyone, but perhaps something happened in a gray area that his ex exaggerated? Is that what he is afraid of?
I never did get the whole story of what the ex claimed happened, and I can’t ask Chris or his family because it’s hurtful to them and there’s too much bias there. I have considered going to the ex, but I don’t know if she would bother with me. One of the theories I have is that she was jealous of me — I was the girl that replaced her, plus I’m respected more than she is socially — so she fabricated the whole thing. My own story is decently known and I have been given labels by peers such as feminist or liberal — undeserved, I think — so her accusation would be sensible if she hoped to get my attention and motivate me to break up with Chris. It wouldn’t be wise to go to her if this were true, so I’m left with no options.
I only want to know how I can move forward with Chris and feel confident in our relationship without questioning everything. I know my imagination likely runs away with me more than it should, but I struggle to believe him, even if he gives direct answers, because he’s so vague. How do I get satisfactory answers to these questions from somebody who doesn’t want to talk about the truth? — Needing Satisfactory Answers
This is what we call the perpetuation of rape culture. When a man can be accused of rape — credibly enough to need a lawyer — and he isn’t held accountable at all, when he isn’t even questioned about it by the woman he’s dating — a woman who has been sexually assaulted herself — despite never being transparent with her about anything at all, and never opening up about his personal life and habits and behavior: that is the perpetuation of rape culture. Letting a man off the hook without even saying, “Hey, why do you think your ex would say something like this about you?” is the perpetuation of rape culture.
When you neglect to ask your boyfriend even a single question about his rape allegation, you’re giving yet another man another free pass to treat a woman’s body however he wants without even the tiniest repercussion. And then you justify your silence by claiming that you wouldn’t get a “satisfactory answer” (i.e. the truth?) anyway so why bother asking. Even though getting the truth is dependent on getting it from someone else because Chris has never told you the whole truth about anything and you don’t really trust him, you’re still in a place that you think having a transparent and honest relationship with him is possible? THAT is rape culture! Ignoring common sense and all evidence screaming in your face that your boyfriend isn’t an innocent Boy Scout is rape culture. Blaming the alleged victim for falsely accusing your boyfriend of rape in an effort to break up your relationship because she’s jealous of you, without even asking your boyfriend a single question about her and about why she might be accusing him of such a thing, is rape culture. Excusing a man from committing rape who has never opened up to you about anything in his life at all because he was nervous the first time he kissed you is rape culture.
A man can be shy and nervous with you and still be capable of rape. A man can treat you like a queen and still be capable of treating another woman like dirt. A man can have committed rape at some point in his life and then go on to treat future women in his life — including a wife and daughters — with love and kindness and respect, but that doesn’t mean the rape never happened. A man can rape once and learn from his mistake and spend the rest of his life redeeming himself and doing good in the world and contributing to society in a meaningful way and none of that erases the worst thing that he’s done, a rape he once committed. And while judging someone’s whole life by his worst act or acts isn’t fair, rapists need to be held accountable if for no other reason than to change our culture and stop excusing rapists from raping! Men who are accused of rape need to be questioned. They need to answer for their behavior. We need to stop letting them off the hook. We need to stop fucking blaming their accusers of lying or exaggerating because every time we dismiss a woman’s narrative, we convince another woman to stay silent for fear that she’ll be called a liar, too.
LW, as someone who was sexually assaulted, surely you understand better than most how important it is that we change the culture we live in – that we stop making it so safe for rapists to get away with raping. Well, we change the culture by changing our own behavior in it. It’s not always going to be easy or feel good to change our behavior. Questioning people we love can feel uncomfortable and awkward, I get it. But you say you want to move forward, and the only way you’re going to do that is to move out of your comfort zone. Ask the painful questions. And quit rejecting the truth when you hear it – and, most of all, when you don’t.